The aim of this article was to study the normal longitudinal development of wideband absorbance and admittance measures through infancy.
Two hundred one infants who passed the newborn hearing screen (automated auditory brainstem response) were tested at birth and then followed up at approximately 6, 12, and 18 months of age. Most infants were of either White (86%) or Asian (11%) descent. At each test session, infants passed tympanometry and distortion product otoacoustic emission tests. High-frequency (1000-Hz) tympanometry was used at birth and 6 months of age, and low-frequency (226-Hz) tympanometry was used at 12 and 18 months of age. Wideband pressure reflectance was also measured at each session and analyzed in terms of absorbance, admittance at the probe tip, and admittance normalized for differences in ear canal area. Multilevel hierarchical models were fitted to the absorbance and admittance data to investigate for effects of age, ear side, gender, ethnicity, and frequency.
There were considerable age effects on wideband absorbance and admittance measurements over the first 18 months of life. The most dramatic changes occurred between birth and 6 months of age, and there were significant differences between all age groups in the 3000- to 4000-Hz region. There were significant ethnicity effects that were substantial for certain combinations of ethnicity, age, and frequency (e.g., absorbance at 6000 Hz at 12 months of age).
There are large developmental effects on wideband absorbance and admittance measures through infancy. For absorbance, we recommend separate reference data be used at birth, 6 months of age, and 12–18 months of age. For admittance (both normalized and at the probe tip), we advise using separate normative regions for each age group (neonates and 6, 12, and 18 months).